JCK Show Makes Big Noise in Vegas

The JCK Shows came roaring into Las Vegas May 28 through June 5, producing strong reviews for the high-end Luxury by JCK and the new Premiere show, good reviews for the appointment-only Swiss Watch by JCK show, good-to-mixed reviews for the flagship JCK Show, and weak results for its new outpost at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The main JCK Show, held at the Sands Expo and Convention Center, is the largest and best attended jewelry show in North America. Attendance at this year’s edition—approximately 21,000 retailers from 21 countries—was up slightly compared with 2006 figures, said Dave Bonaparte, group vice president of JCK Events. Included in the mix were buyers from major chains such as Ben Bridge, Birks & Mayors, JC Penney, and Sterling, as well as many independent jewelers, television shopping networks, and others.

Bonaparte said that while final numbers have not been audited, the number of storefronts attending was up about 7 percent, and when the increased attendance at Luxury and Premiere is factored in, show attendance was up about 10 percent over last year’s. “Overall it was a very good show,” he said. “If you look at the [jewelry trade show] year, Vicenza was kind of quiet, and at Basel people were cautiously optimistic. By the time JCK came around, people were anxious, and they were ready to go and needed to turn their inventory.”

He called the show’s new giftware-oriented Cadeaux collection “really vibrant” and noted the show made a serious effort to boost its educational efforts this year.

The reviews were mostly on the positive side, particularly on the show’s biggest day, Sunday. Still, a significant number of exhibitors called show traffic “spotty,” and argued that the proliferation of shows in Vegas diluted traffic.

As has become standard, exhibitors who made appointments and drummed up business beforehand did the most business, Bonaparte said. “You can no longer just sit back and be complacent,” he said.

Exhibitor comments to JCK magazine staff echoed Bonaparte’s findings—those with good marketing and who worked the phones before the show had far better results than those who didn’t.

The JCK Show’s weakest component was its new outpost at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where 400 exhibitors showed their wares. Most complained of low traffic, because of the LVCC’s considerable distance from the Sands. Despite ample transportation and a variety of enticements, buyers just didn’t go.

“Any first-year effort in a dual venue is going to have its growing pains,” Bonaparte said. “We tried to do everything we could to get traffic. We had free lunches, transportation, car raffles, iPod giveaways. We put the keynote speaker there and added Shane Decker as a second keynote speaker, as well as the JA executive roundtable. All those things were designed to drive traffic.

“We would have liked more traffic there for sure,” he continued. “It wasn’t as vibrant as the Sands, but it certainly got noticed. We have two more years there and next year things can only get better.”

The Sands is planning an expansion, now estimated for completion in time for the 2010 show, at which time the LVCC exhibitors will move there.

On the other hand, Luxury by JCK and the concurrent new Premiere event both made a strong showing, as did Swiss Watch by JCK. The new Premiere show, which was located one floor below Luxury in the Venetian hotel, shared badge access and networking events with Luxury. It consisted mainly of exhibitors who also show in the Prestige Promenade pavilion on the main floor.

As usual, the show was a magnet for notables—industry and otherwise—including comedian Howie Mandel, who performed at Luxury/Premiere; Mary Hart from Entertainment Tonight; comedian J. Anthony Brown at watch company Jasuka; model Kathy Ireland and legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor at House of Taylor; and Tara Reid of Desperate Housewives. Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons addressed one industry dinner, and actress Suzanne Somers gave the keynote speech. (See sidebars)

The JCK, Luxury, and Premiere shows are managed by Reed Exhibitions, a sister company of Reed Business Information, which owns JCK magazine. Both are divisions of Reed Elsevier.